By Tony Glosson
On Monday, the Virginia Senate approved a redistricting bill that the Virginia Public Access Project claims will shift some traditionally democratic voters from competitive districts into already solidly Democratic ones. This would provide Republicans, who control an evenly divided Senate via Lt. Governor Bill Bolling’s tiebreaker vote, with an advantage going into 2015 elections.
Bolling indicated that he may not have voted for the bill had his vote been required to break a 20-20 tie citing concerns about its effect on bipartisanship for other legislation, but Democrat Henry L. Marsh III was absent from the vote. Marsh took the day off to attend the presidential inauguration. Thus, the bill passed in the Senate on a 20-19 vote without Bolling’s tiebreaker.
The bill will have to pass the Republican-controlled Virginia House, and be cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice, before it reaches Governor Bob McDonnell’s desk.
McDonnell, a Republican, said he was surprised by the move, but will make a decision about signing the legislation should it reach his desk. McDonnell also stated that he did not feel it was a “good way to do business,” and emphasized that he considers his transportation and education initiatives to be higher priorities than redistricting measures like this one. Proponents of the measure, however, argue that the bill creates districts that better comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act and are more compact than the ones set by current law.